Arequipa - Canyon del Colca
Located in the southeast of Peru, Arequipa is the center of the southern part of the country that includes the departments of Apurimac, Cusco, Madre de Dios, Moquegua, Puno, and Tacna. It is also part of the tourism corridor of southern Peru.
Facts About Arequipa:
Elevation in Arequipa city: 2,335 m or 7,661 ft.
Lowest elevation: 9m or 30ft (Punta de Bombón)
Highest: 4,910m or 16109 ft. (Volcano Viewpoint—Caylloma)
Ways to get there
• Lima—Arequipa 1 hour
• Cusco—Arequipa 30 min
• Tacna—Arequipa 20 min
• Juliaca—Arequipa 20 min
By Train: Puno-Arequipa 351 km
Lima—Arequipa 1020 km (Pan-American Highway South)
Cusco—Arequipa 625 km
Puno—Arequipa 325 km
Arequipa—Colca Canyon 180 km
CLIMATE IN AREQUIPA
The territory of Arequipa features diverse climatic zones, which range from warm and mild valleys to the glaciers and perpetual snow of the high mountains. The rains in the Andean region fall regularly from January through March. On the coast, mist, drizzle, and ground-level fog are common.
Hydrography: Most of rivers that originate in the Chila mountains flow into the Pacific; the Chili river passes through the city of Arequipa on its way to the sea. However, the most distant source of the Amazon river has also been traced back to the Chila mountains of Arequipa, a discovery to which the river owes its status as both the longest and widest river in the world. At its headwaters, the river is known as Carhuasanta, and at the end, Amazonas.
Ecology: The region of Arequipa has the longest extension of Peru’s coast, and a large portion of its area forms the western Andean watershed. The mountains and high plains of Arequipa are considered barren, wind-scoured deserts; meanwhile in the valleys and canyons, seed- and fruit-eating birds abound, finding all their needs provided for by mother nature. Along Arequipa’s long coastline, seemingly endless beaches teem with marine life, including sea lions that crowd the rocks; the waters are rich in fish and seafood, and also ideal for aquatic sports.
Gastronomy: The quintessential dish in Arequipa’s cuisine is a stuffed rocoto pepper, followed by other traditional recipes including locro (a rich pumpkin stew), adobo (pork simmered with a sauce of herbs and chilies), aji de camarones, (shrimp in spicy sauce) aji de lacayote (figleaf gourd in pepper sauce), roasted kid, browned flank steak, and pan-fried guinea pig or rabbit. Some favorite typical desserts include buñuelos (fritters made of flour, eggs, and milk drenched in cane syrup), iced cheese (an ice cream made from milk, cinnamon, coconut, and spices), chocolates, and toffees.
CUSTOMS AND CELEBRATIONS
Every year on August 15th, Arequipa celebrates its most important festival, the city’s anniversary, with parades around the city, colorful folkloric dances, and bullfights lasting a whole week. Other holidays include:
February 2: Celebration of the Virgin of Candelaria in the district of Chivay
May 1–3: Celebration of the Virgin of Chapi, a pilgrimage made 45 km outside of Arequipa
June 14–17: Celebration of the Virgin of Mt. Carmel in Carmen Alto, Yura
August 15: Celebration of the Virgin of the Assumption, in the towns of Chivay, Andagua, and Machaguay
Colca Valley is located 165 km from the city of Arequipa and 40 km from the provincial capital of Caylloma (Chivay).
GETTING THERE: take a bus from Arequipa to Chivay, approximately a three-hour ride.
TEMPERATURE IN COLCA VALLEY: The annual average temperature in the valley is 10°C (50°F). Rain is common from December through March; during the rest of the year, the weather is mild and dry with cold nights.
Colca Valley is the result of a rift in the earth’s crust over 100km long, eroded over thousands of years by what is now known as the Colca river. Along the valley, 14 villages are scattered from the lowlands up to the highlands. This valley is known for its impressive terraces, which cover approximately 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres).
The terraces range from in elevation from 3250 m (10,663 ft.) to 3650 m (11975 ft.). The trail that winds along Colca Canyon passes through villages such as Madrigal, Ichupampa, Coporaque, as well as wide, fertile areas where local farmers grow potatoes, corn, barley, and wheat. In the past, the valley was inhabited by pre-Incan peoples, such as the Collaguas and Cabanas. Later, the Incas arrived, improving on the architecture in the valley and constructing the impressive terraces that have withstood the passing of many centuries, through the colonial period and into the time of the present republic.
In 2005, during an expedition lead by polish kayaker Andrzej Piotowsky and known as CANOANDES, it was determined that in small village of Quillo Orco, the depth of Colca Canyon reaches 4,160 meters (13,648 ft.)—more than twice the depth of Arizona’s Grand Canyon—making it the second-deepest canyon in the world, after Arequipa’s even more remote Cotahuasi Canyon.
Colca Canyon serves as a habitat for fauna including the Andean condor and at least 100 other bird species. It also provides a home for llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and guanacos, all Andean relatives of the camel. More than 300 plant species grow abundantly in the canyon, including many varieties of cacti.
Colca Canyon is an ideal place for a range of outdoor activities, from photography and hiking, to kayaking, cycling, and rock-climbing.
The highest point in the valley is Ampato, whose peak reaches 6,388 m (20,958 ft.); the lowest point is at the confluence of the Colca and Andamayo rivers, at 970 m (3,182 ft.).